TBT: Aww, isn’t Laurie cute?

“Cute” may not be a word that comes immediately to mind when you think of Laurie R. King.  But Laurie Richardson? On a Throwback Thursday? Oh, why not? LK and dogs

This was taken in 1966, when I was fourteen, about the age of Mary Russell in Monday’s ongoing Mary Russell’s War.  I was living in Saratoga, CA, and remembering the size of the house, it was a good thing the dogs, which belonged to my sister, were only visiting.

Anyone else out there remember a wardrobe entirely out of hand-sewn garments? That used to be the cheaper alternative…

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  1. Kay on September 25, 2014 at 6:21 am

    …and fabric stores dazzled, with row upon row of bolts of every possible description, and long tables where women sat, poring over fat pattern books. Hours would pass. “If I use this skirt pattern, but change the kick pleat to the one from that pattern, and make it from the blue plaid wool…”

  2. Jane Steen on September 25, 2014 at 6:25 am

    I used to knit all my sweaters and sew quite a few of my clothes because it was way cheaper than going to the store. A few months ago I read Overdressed, a nonfic about the cost of cheap fashion, and learned that our days of super-cheap clothes are probably doomed (and should be). I imagine Mary Russell wears tailored clothes – would you welcome a return to the days when clothing was valued and looked after?

  3. Linda on September 25, 2014 at 7:12 am

    I must have used the same pattern. Mine was gold with delicate flower sprigs and long sleeves. Probably also made in 1966, when I was 16. I love the old photos, and all of your books and stories! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Bonnie on September 25, 2014 at 7:30 am

    From the time I was about 12 until in my early 20s I made almost all of my clothes. It wasn’t as much about the money as it was about being creative and not looking like everybody else. This was in the ’60s and ’70s, and clothes were pretty and patterns were easy to follow (only one size per envelope, rather than five or six sizes printed on the tissue paper as now.) I tried sewing again a few years ago, but I couldn’t get my new sewing machine threaded.

    • Laurie King on September 25, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Yes, those new machines can be complicated to put together (especially for middle aged eyes..)

  5. Beth Lowrey on September 25, 2014 at 7:55 am

    I made dresses for me (learned how on maternity clothes – I figured nobody would be looking at the dress anyway) and in the seventies sewed for my children. However, patterns have gotten not only complicated but expensive!

  6. Judy McD on September 25, 2014 at 8:01 am

    What I wanted most in the world for my (9th? 10th?) birthday was a store bought dress, something that I had never had before. Frugality and quality meant that we made most of our clothing, quite often from the boxes of lavish dresses sent to us by the well-to-do aunt. Both my grandmothers were excellent seamstresses, and my mother too.Although she left most of the sewing to them, when she made something for me it was touched with imagination. There was a shorts set, with an applique of a pony on the top; the pony had a black bead for an eye and an embroidery floss main and tail.

    Back to The Dress: we went into town, where there was a wonderful store that had everything a person could want, at least in those times. The dresses, other clothing and a fascinating selection of fabrics were on a balcony that went around three sides of this large space. After much careful thought, a full skirted dress with short sleeves was chosen. The fabric was a warm golden brown that still evokes love and comfort. Then, we went back downstairs to pay. In those days, the clerk made out your bill, you handed over your money and it and the bill went into a tiny container attached to a cable and moved magically back upstairs to the accountant’s room who would send back the bill and the change. Being a fan of The Borrowers, I felt that traveling in that little metal tube would be just the perfect way to go.

  7. Tricia Mills on September 25, 2014 at 8:07 am

    I remember a very short girl in my high school whose clothes were all made by her mother…PERFECTLY. You could not tell them from the most expensive teen outfits in 17 magazine. I envied her. (And of course her boyfriend was a 6’2″ football star, a gentle giant.) I learned to sew in nursing school because I had a tiny budget from the GI Bill, and a part time job as an OR tech. I loved those gathered elastic top dresses from Walmart…..you bought a length, sewed a seam, attached the matching straps in different ways, and instant sundress!

  8. Alice Wright on September 25, 2014 at 8:20 am

    My mother made every stitch of outer clothing until I was well into my teens. She also knitted my sweaters. I didn’t have a “store bought” outfit until I was in my last few years of high school when she went back to work. Ah, those were the days.

  9. Robin on September 25, 2014 at 10:11 am

    What is going on at the bottom of the picture, Laurie? It looks like you might have your left leg in a cast? (And I too grew up on handmade dresses, including 2 prom dresses. My aunt was a great seamstress, but her idea of great looking clothes and mine were not always aligned.)

  10. Merrily Taylor on September 25, 2014 at 10:20 am

    My mother made many of my clothes until about the time I went to college. She would have been the first one to say that she wasn’t a very sophisticated seamstress – they always had to be simple patterns – but she sewed one heck of a lot better than I ever did or have. In junior high (as we called it then) and high school I had the Home Ec teacher from hell, and after two bouts with being forced to sew by someone who had no flexibility and no patience for someone with Challenges (e.g., I am left handed and she wanted everything done in a right handed manner) I swore that once I survived the class, I would never touch another sewing machine again as long as I lived.
    And I haven’t.

  11. Carol Rogers on September 25, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I love reading these comments. I am older than Laurie, but I can remember vividly the outfit my father bought me to go away to college. A plaid wool skirt in red, gray and white and a sweater to go with. Still my favorite color combination. I can remember the cash being whizzed around the store in a pneumatic tube. Thank you to everyone for sparking wonderful memories about a much simpler time.

  12. Deborah on September 25, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I still make any dress that actually fits me, Laurie. Though I mostly wear pants and tops now. We are about the same age. I am so grateful my mother taught me to sew beginning when I was six. During one week in 1967 I made a cotton shift dress each evening and wore my new dress to school the next day. Not only did I enjoy wearing them as well as making them, it inspired my best friend to learn to sew herself.

  13. Dolly Joern on September 25, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I’m much older than you and grew up only in homemade dresses and hand knit sweaters until late teens when I went into nurses training in Santa Barbara but I did have one store bought dress that I fell in love with and was on sale for $5, a fortune in those days. Does anyone remember the Nash Department store in Pasadena, Ca? That’s where my sale dress came from. All the women in my family, except me, were seamstresses and the pedal machine was always in use.

    • Merrily Taylor on September 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm


      I grew up on the other side of the country and so don’t remember the department store you mentioned (our big department store in my youth – I’m also older than Laurie – was Maas Brothers), but I do remember when a nice “store bought” dress was $7 or $8. When I was in graduate school I bought a suit for the outrageous sum of $38, and I had to have it on layaway for several weeks in order to get it.
      Boy do we sound old! (-:

  14. Mary Garrett on September 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Mom made us the BEST clothes! She was excellent at precise fittings . . . my skills are basic by comparison.

  15. Meredith Taylor on September 26, 2014 at 12:54 am

    I believe that I, too, had a dress in that exact pattern. Made it laboriously with help from a friend; not that good at sewing. The nearest fabric store here has Closed. egad

    Check the Sixties eyeliner!

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